German court to try former Auschwitz guard for murder

Reuters News
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Posted: Dec 15, 2014 2:23 PM

BERLIN (Reuters) - A 93-year old man suspected of being a former guard at the Nazi death camp Auschwitz will be tried in the new year, a German court said on Monday.

Nearly 70 years after the end of the Holocaust, in which some 6 million Jews as well as Roma, homosexuals, disabled and political opponents to the Nazis were put to death, most suspects have either died or are unfit for trial.

The court in the northern city of Lueneburg did not identify the accused who will be tried on charges of being an accessory to the murder of 300,000 people.

Hanover prosecutors say the man is believed to have worked as an SS guard at the camp in occupied Poland between September 1942 and October 1944, where he was in charge of counting and managing the money seized from those deported to Auschwitz.

The charges relate to a two-month period between May and July 1944, when an estimated 137 trains arrived at the camp carrying 425,000 people, mostly from Hungary. At least 300,000 of them were murdered immediately.

"The accused knew that, as part of the selection process, those not chosen for work and told they were going to the showers were really going to the gas chambers where they would be put to death in an agonizing manner," the court said in a previous statement issued in September.

Some 16 survivors or relatives of survivors have come forward, the court said. Eight have been accepted as witnesses.

While time is running out for bringing surviving war criminals to justice, Nazi-hunting groups such as the Simon Wiesenthal Center are pushing for the thousands who staffed the death camps and helped transport Jewish victims across Europe to be pursued before it is too late.

(Reporting by Alexandra Hudson; Editing by Robin Pomeroy)